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Network World - If you're interested in achieving the benefits of a private cloud, but aren't sure you want to devote the time and resources to build one from scratch, there is an alternative - cloud-in-a-box.
Integrated cloud stacks, available from companies such as Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM and VMware, can help enterprise IT implement private clouds post haste. These cloud stacks provide cloud building blocks pre-packaged and ready for launching on demand.
"We're talking about either pure software or packaged hardware and software solutions that instantiate infrastructure as a service - meaning, when you turn the system on, you immediately can do some provisioning of virtual machines, virtual disks and virtual networks," says James Staten, vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research.
Cloud-in-a-box solutions have evolved out of converged infrastructure products companies such as Cisco, with its Unified Computing System, and HP, with BladeSystem Matrix, rolled out two years ago. To those architectural underpinnings, cloud-in-a-box products add in the management finesse so critical for successful cloud implementations.
"Self-service portals; metering; some billing, perhaps; dynamic workload management; image libraries - these are the core components you'd want to find in cloud-in-a-box," Staten says.
Forrester recognizes about a half-dozen products as true cloud in a box. On the hardware and software side, its short list includes HP CloudSystem, Dell Virtual Integrated System, Cisco's cloud infrastructure and IBM CloudBurst. BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management, Cloud.com CloudStack, Microsoft Hyper-V Cloud and VMware vCloud are software-based examples, Staten says.
"They're all pretty much first generation and are still maturing, but they're all very capable," he adds.
ManTech International, a provider of technology for national security programs, uses IBM CloudBurst to build a private cloud that gives its 350 developers instant access to varied IT resources as needed.
"We had been in a situation where developers all had their own workstations that would need to be configured for whatever particular project they were working on at any given time. It was very labor-intensive; systems administrators would have to come out and reload machines any time developers changed projects, say if they went from a Windows to a Linux project. Plus the sprawl had gotten out of control," says Mitch Daniels, IT senior scientist with the Fairfax, Va., company.
"We wanted to consolidate our infrastructure and put some controls in, and we knew we potentially wanted to use a cloud-type technology to do that," he adds.
Weighing available options at the time, ManTech decided on the IBM CloudBurst, which allowed the company to "kill two birds with one stone," Daniels says. "It gave me the software solution I needed to do the auto-provisioning, the virtual desktop management, and all of those types of things and, at the same time, let me move developers off individual boxes to the blade infrastructure," he explains.